Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Who's freaking out?

Highlights, courtesy of New York Magazine's Daily Intel. Sphere: Related Content


I'm sure my auditor friends are seeing more of this.

http://www.footnoted.org/market-meltdown/feeling-greatly-depressed/ Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

New Job First Day Eve

My blog isn't widely read enough that I would announce that I got a job to the universe via this blog but this is the OFFICIAL blog announcement of me getting a new job.

Click here for my reaction. I know, the resemblance is striking.

The eve of a new job isn't really like any other "eve" (e.g. Christmas, New Year's) out there. No presents or projectile vomiting the morning after, just general anxiety of the being the new kid at school. I'll probably eat lunch alone and trip when I walk in front of a big group of pretty girls. You know, the usual.

On the bright side, I won't be working in a Final Big 4 (FB4) working environment (or equivalent) any longer. To get an idea of what the people and the environment is like at one of these firms (or similar regional and local firms) go here:

http://www.stuffaccountantslike.com/ (thanks to a friend and former colleague for the reference). My personal favorites are #4, 5, 7, and 9.

I'm sure you've gotten an idea about my past experiences in other blog posts but this is most comprehensive list I've seen.

I'll be reporting on my new job and no doubt it will provide awesome blogging material. My first day is tomorrow so no doubt I will have something to complain about by the end of the day noon.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to help my Mom pick out my outfit for my first day tomorrow so she can lay it out for me. Sphere: Related Content

Monday, February 9, 2009

It's Definitely Time...

If you don't know, consider this.

And no, this is not what being unemployed has done to me...I could never grow a mustache.

Job hunting after being part of a massive layoff is an experience worth complaining about for many reasons but I'll focus on the process itself in this particular post.

Most notably in the job hunting process are the individuals that work as “recruiters” to set you up with potential employers. Recruiters are almost always paid on a commission basis. Whatever the new employer pays the candidate, the recruiting firm receives a percentage of that new salary.

I probably don't have to tell you that this often leads to large groups of smooth talking slimy individuals that very infrequently have the candidate's best interests in mind. Bigger salary for candidate = bigger commission. OHHH, and by the way, they want to meet you in person to make sure you're not a complete boob like this guy. Suit up, go in, get the dog and pony show, shake hands, blah, blah, blah.

Fine. Sometimes this can't be helped. A necessary evil means to an end. So they set you up with an interview. Now we're moving on to the next stage: meeting the potential employer.

This is where it gets tricky. Recruiters often don't tell you a lot about the company or the position because they don't know squat about your given expertise (in my case bean counting). They throw around a bunch of vague cliches so they sound like they know what they're talking about and try to sex it up as much as possible with goodies like traveling to cool locations, 40 hour work weeks, easy to get along with superiors, etc. All the stuff you want to hear.

Reluctantly you agree to meet with the potential employer even though it's a 40 minute commute on President's Day. STRIKE 1

Oh, and they are offering significantly below what you were already making. STRIKE 2

Ok. Two strikes. Don't worry. Maybe they are really cool people and they have a Google-style cafeteria and flexible work scheduling and possible telecommuting.

Suit up and go to interview. In the interview: you find out that you aren't going to be traveling to Florida, California, New York, Europe but in fact to Nova Scotia and North Dakota in the dead of winter and to New Orleans in the smack middle of hurricane season.

Oh, and the people that you would be working with are still ACCOUNTANTS. For the most part we're not talking about terribly exciting people. Their interests consist of golfing, sports and living in the suburbs. SHUDDER.


So what are you going to do? You need a job. Oh, and because you (i.e. me) are a normal person and can form several coherent sentences in a row and talk reasonably intelligently about something relevant to accounting, they ask you back for the second interview.

Did I forget to mention that the recruiter wants CONSTANT UPDATES like I'm a human SportsCenter or something. Um, YEAH.

Ok, second interview. Suit up (that's three). This consists of lunch which is at a barely step-above casual dining restaurant that still happens to be a chain. Whatevs. Free lunch. Economics was such BS.

Lunch is fine. Not terribly awkward. More talk about sports and weather. Again, it's free. Back to the potential employer's place of biz. Chat a bit longer, CFO isn't available, no problem. We'll get this wrapped soon they say. Meet HR guy. He's not an accountant, so that's refreshing.

Give recruiter the mandatory call after the interview. Yes, it went fine. I think they're interested. Yes, the job seems fine. Ok. Great. Hang-up phone. Mimic blowing my brains out with thumb and pointer finger gun.

Recruiter calls. Hey, CFO wants to meet you. Great. Suit up (#4). Meet CFO for all of 15 minutes. Goes pretty well considering the time. Talk with another guy not met previously. Fine. Good. Out.

Mandatory update given to recruiter. Mimic suicide by thumb/pointer gun again.

One day. Two days. Three days. Weekend. Medicate. Medicate. Recruiter is confident that you will hear something Monday.

Monday. No word. Tuesday: they passed. Wonderful. Claim unemployment for the week.

And the wheels on the bus go round and round...

Sphere: Related Content

Liability, Continued

Link to a lengthy discussion regarding the accounting firms and their current liability risk. I'm really not trying to spread fear, I swear. Just looking out for my friends and colleagues still in the trenches.

Sphere: Related Content

Friday, February 6, 2009

Not Too Big 4 to Fail?

Being unemployed allows me to do lots of reading and thinking. One isn't so dangerous, the other has the potential. Accordingly, I'm going to do some wildly unfounded speculating.

I was speaking to a friend/colleague last Friday whose client is currently being sued for activity related to that guy who Madoff with all the money (I think I owe Paul Provenza for that pun) and wondered what is the end result of all this madness...Is the possibility of a Final Big 4 (FB4) firm failure out there?

My friend's client is certainly not the first (who knows who is) and definitely won't be the last. This clustercluck stretches far and wide. The obvious thought is, who will get to Madoff first? The Russian mob or the Latin American drug cartels? It could be prominent Jews or his own lawyer!

Regardless of what happens to the Master Ponz is somewhat irrelevant. What comes to my mind is that the FB4 could have serious litigation problems on their hands.

When you consider the crooked legitimate clients of the FB4 and their exposure to the funds of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities either through feeder funds or direct investments this could end up being one hell of a domino effect.

The parties that lost money (can be searched here) are not pushovers. This will not be taken lightly.

Discuss. Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A - Always, B - Be, C - Closing

The title is obscure but relevant...

Being unemployed at this particular point in history has some strange advantages that I otherwise would not have predicted when I first found myself unemployed back in November. The primary advantage is the fact that since I don't have a job I no longer have to worry about losing it.

Strange outlook you say? On the double-entry contrary...The general mood with my friends who remain in the trenches is that they feel like they are auditing for their professional lives. My former firm (i.e. the one that sounds like a radio station) and in all likelihood, the remaining three of the Final Big Four, in their infinite wisdom have put the figurative (and sometimes literal) gun to the heads of the remaining professionals that are in their employ.

This has several indirect consequences, most significantly that any remnants of the minuscule work/life balance that existed prior to the unprecedented layoffs that have occurred have evaporated in to thin flipping air.

The irony is that this was the biggest selling point of the team (and many others I imagine) that I worked on last year. Hours were limited so that you can have a life. My colleagues that remained on that team have basically said, “Yeah, well, that's basically over”.

The worst part about that is after everything slows down (March/Aprilish) it's likely that one in five will get the axe. “Thanks for all your hard work the past six months, here's your 30 days of severance.”

Of course, this will all be done in classic accountant passive-aggressive fashion:

Partner/Manager in January/February: You're a crucial part of this team. We're really depending on you this busy season. You need to step it up for us.

Partner/Manager in March/April: We don't think your future is with this firm.

This conversation will likely take place after the recipient of 30 days severance and a future of paying COBRA premiums worked between 60-70 hours (and often more than that) a week arguing over whether a memorandum has too many bullet points, if lies conversations about the ubiquitous fraud at the client being audited has actually been discussed, and if the daily two hour meeting discussing the lack of progress should be at 10 am (too early) or 3pm (still suffering from lunch coma).

Hey! But they're still great places to work! Just ask Fortune magazine....

Who's filling out these questionnaires anyway? Sphere: Related Content